'To hell' with it Diversity movement talks of change in Georgia Tech song
By Scott Lange Assistant News Editor
Students sang the school song during Wednesday night's basketball game against Clemson.
The Diversity Task Force recommended that changes be made to "The Ramblin' Wreck," the school song of Georgia Tech. The recommendation is contained in the task force's report to the Diversity Forum.
According to Stephanie Ray, Associate Dean of Students, Director of Diversity Issues, and Chair of the Diversity Task Force, the nineteen members of the task force agreed that the school song should be changed. "I think the task force felt that the song was not reflective of Georgia Tech in current times," Ray explained.
While concerned with the allusions to alcohol in the song, the primary issue for the task force was the way the song portrays women. "Women have been at Tech for 45 years and so the task force wanted to imply that [a woman] can be a hell of an engineer too," Ray said.
Dean Gail DiSabatino echoed the concerns of the task force. "[The school song] portrays women and men in stereotypical ways," DiSabatino explained.
Initial student reactions have been mixed.
"Altering the fight song would be like changing our school colors to red and black," Kristen Thorvig said.
"Referring to a snowman or sleigh ride in a song doesn't make me go build Frosty or shake bells," Thorvig continued. "Nor does singing the fight song make me sexist or prone to drinking."
DiSabatino and Ray emphasize that the recommendation is intended to initiate dialogue.
"These are only recommendations," Ray explained. "There is nothing in place to initiate any of these recommendations at this time."
"We know that tradition is very important here at Georgia Tech and the fight song is tradition," Ray said. "Students should know that the administration is not going to up and change the fight song without input."
According to Stacey Sapp, Associate Vice President and Associate Executive Director of the Alumni Association, the Alumni Association is interested in any discussion concerning the school song.
"Primarily, the Alumni Association's purpose is to maintain the traditions of Georgia Tech," Sapp said. "We do work hard to keep the traditions of Georgia Tech alive, and one of the strong traditions at Georgia Tech is our fight song."
The "Ramblin Wreck" first appeared in the Blueprint in 1908 under the title "What Causes Whitlock to Blush." The melody is usually attributed to either an Irish pub song or "The Bonnie Blue Flag," a song from the Civil War.
The Yellow Jacket school song has since become world-famous. The most notable appearance of the song was during Nixon and Kruschev's Kitchen Debate. The only song the two Cold War leaders both knew was the "Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech."
Nineteen people from the Georgia Tech community sat on the Diversity Task Force including six students. The members of the task force were selected by Dean Ray along with Lee Wilcox, Vice President of Student Affairs.
"We would really like to have some representation from alumni on this," Sapp stated. "There is a lot of student input and that is very valuable, but I think that some alumni input would be helpful as well."
The task force anticipated that many people connected to the Tech community would have strong feelings about the song.
"The task force felt the [issue of] the fight song would be controversial," said Ray.
'"They went ahead with it to meet their goal which was to help improve campus climate and help foster a community," said Ray.
Pat Edwards, member of the Ramblin Reck Club, believes that a change to the fight song could be beneficial.
"As someone who believes that traditions on campus are underparticipated in, I believe any impediment [to participation] should be taken care of," Edwards said.
"Change is always good," Edwards explained. "Each generation has to take traditions and make them their own."
The fight song was only one of a much larger set of recommendations from the task force; watch The Technique for further coverage of the diversity issues the task force raised.